HC Deb 30 May 1945 vol 411 cc212-3
46. Mr. Palmer

asked the Prime Minister whether he will now consider extending the award of the 1939–45 Star to those personnel of Anti-Aircraft Command who were operationally engaged for a suitable period in the defence of Britain.

The Prime Minister

No, Sir, the Defence Medal is to be granted in recognition of such service in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Palmer

Is my right hon. Friend not really willing to reconsider this matter? Is he not aware that there is considerable feeling amongst personnel of "Ack-Ack" Command that there should be a distinction between them and members of the civilian services?

The Prime Minister

The losses in the Fire Service were many times higher than those in Anti-Aircraft Command. I do not think this is a case for making particular trouble. I would have liked very much to have made some particular distinction for Anti-Aircraft Command but that, as I have said before, involves bringing in enormous other numbers. Whatever Anti-Aircraft Command gets the air ground staffs, running into 700,000, require, and before you know where you are the number has reached a million. We have tried to cater for all these millions by the Defence Medal. If we now pick out any special honour for Anti-Aircraft Command, that will open the whole question again. I only wish that we could meet the case, perhaps by more small badges and so forth, but I am very much afraid of opening again the flood-gates, and having to begin again from where we started.

Mr. Molson

Will my right hon. Friend consider dividing the Defence Medal into Military and Civil Divisions as has been done in many cases, for example, the Order of the Bath? Will he note the objection of the Armed Forces to being given a civil medal?

The Prime Minister

In that case there would be great difficulties between the claims of Anti-Aircraft Command and those of the air forces on the stations, and of the troops employed in this country. A great many differences and difficulties would arise, and in some cases civil staffs were more severely hit.